Prep Boys Basketball

Full-strength Panthers rally to top Tigers

Beardstown's Clement Kayembe, left, and Cristobal Villegas, right, attempt to block a shot attempt by Central's Hayden Neisen in Camp Point on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 7, 2018 1:10 am

CAMP POINT, Ill. -- Lane Ippensen wasn't worried about the players on the Central boys basketball team meshing once everyone joined the fray.

"We've got a bunch of seniors and it seems like we've been playing for what seems like forever," Ippensen said. "It feels good to be playing better again."

The Panthers played their first four games with a rotation of just six varsity players as the Central football team made its run to the Class 1A state championship game Thanksgiving weekend.

Monday was the first day the football players like Eric Jones, Cole Williams and Kollen Hughes took part in a basketball practice, and Thursday's 55-41 victory over Beardstown was the first game action any of them had seen.

"Getting the plays down and switching over was a little difficult," Jones said. "But other than that, it was all good."

Still, it took until the second half for the Panthers to find their rhythm.

Central erased a six-point halftime deficit against Beardstown, and closed the game by scoring the final 12 points and 16 of the last 18.

"They just had to get the flow of the game and the speed of the game again," Central coach James Barnett said. "There were times we were making the incorrect pass because we were rushing.

"Once we settled down, we started limiting them to one shot, and that was huge."

Central (3-2) also started cleaning up the offensive glass.

Ippensen cleaned up a missed shot by Williams with a putback to give the Panthers a 43-38 lead with 3 minutes, 56 seconds remaining in regulation. Beardstown's Ryan Orr knocked down a 3-pointer at the other end to cut the deficit to two, but Ippensen scored again on a layin on the ensuing possession.

Beardstown (4-3) didn't score again as it went empty on its final eight possessions and missed its last four shots over the final 3:42. Meanwhile, Central went 8 of 9 from the free-throw line in the final 2:54.

"We just stopped playing timid," Jones said. "We were a lot more fluid in the second half. It took a little bit of time for the game to come back to us, but it's like second nature to us."

Central locked down defensively, too.

After scoring 26 points and grabbing five offensive rebounds in the first half, the Tigers were held to just 15 points and one offensive board over the final 16 minutes.

Beardstown missed 15 of 21 shots in the second half.

"Our focus is to control the tempo," Barnett said. "We can't get into a running match with a team like (Beardstown). We're good at sitting down and playing defense and executing on offense."

Ippensen finished with a game-high 19 points, 15 of those coming after halftime. He also grabbed 13 rebounds. Jones and Jalan Vane added 10 points apiece for the Panthers.

"We just had to get off the rust," Ippensen said. "But we came back and just played basketball."

Central 55, Beardstown 41

BEARDSTOWN (4-3)

McWilliams 1 3-4 5, Gann 0 0-0 0, Orr 6 0-0 14, Quigley 1 0-0 3, Guilavogui 3 1-2 8, Rodriguez 3 0-0 9, Kamuena 1 0-0 2, Kayembe 0 0-0 0, Villegas 0 0-0 0, Zambele 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 4-6 41.

CENTRAL (3-2)

Vance 3 2-2 10, Williams 1 4-4 6, Ippensen 8 3-3 19, Jones 3 2-2 10, Neisen 2 1-2 5, Long 0 2-4 2, Hughes 1 0-0 3. Totals 18 14-17 55.

Beardstown 15 11 8 7--41

Central 12 8 17 18--55

3-point field goals--Beardstown 6 (Rodriguez 3, Orr 2, Guilavogui), Central 5 (Vance 2, Jones 2, Hughes). Fouls--Beardstown 21, Central 12. Fouled out--None.